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How I Became: Maria Persia, Head of Client Services, ArmstrongB2B

ArmstrongB2B is an independent marketing agency based in Chester.

Previously working as a senior account manager at Havas Lynx Group, Maria Persia joined ArmstrongB2B initially as an account director in 2021.

Last year, she was promoted to the role of head of client services and is now responsible for a team of 15 account directors, managers and executives. She also oversees all client activity while also managing the account handling team and supporting clients.

Here, Persia shares her career journey, tips and advice for those wanting to follow the same path.

How did you first get into your industry?

I completed a Bachelor’s degree in foreign languages and literature, followed by a Master’s in translation in London, which took me onto an internship program for a translation agency in London.

It was there that I was introduced to the world of client services and project management and discovered how much I loved it! I really enjoyed managing lots of different projects simultaneously – sometimes in over 40 languages – and talking to different clients every day. It was hectic but it taught me how to build endurance and patience, as well as how to meet commercial objectives and nurture relationships with clients. I also worked in hospitality for a long time alongside my 9-5 job which built my confidence, organisational and customer service skills.

What do you love about your job?

I love the diversity of work and the opportunity to connect with so many inspiring minds. As an integrated marketing agency, ArmstrongB2B has a brilliant supply of creative minds and I love watching people at work coming up with the next big idea. The creative ideas that come from the studio are always innovative and forward thinking and I always look forward to seeing them evolve into the work we deliver.

Who – or what – has inspired you in your career?

From a work ethic perspective, definitely my parents. They taught me to work hard and play hard. I always try to push myself and do things that are outside of my comfort zone and I truly believe that this has helped me develop and grow in any job I’ve had. I’m not scared of making mistakes as long as I can learn from them and do better next time. I have also been inspired by those who I’ve met along my career journey – new friends, colleagues and bosses who have inspired me to always look one step ahead.

What are the biggest challenges about your job?

Managing a team of 15 people is not always easy and takes a considerable amount of organisation. It’s important that everyone feels motivated to be productive, and that we have the right skills to be able to deliver the best customer service and creative output. Juggling multiple people’s needs can sometimes be a challenge, but it all comes down to good communication.

As industrial sector specialists working exclusively with manufacturing brands, the content we work on is almost always highly technical, but it’s usually the case that even when a product or service is new to us, there’s a similarity to the approach, so it’s my role to unpick the brief and establish the best way forwards.

It’s my job to make sure that our team has the resources to adapt to new trends, technologies and platforms to ensure our services remain relevant and effective.

What skills have been the most crucial to you succeeding in your career so far?

Communication, patience, resilience and common sense. I also think being open and receptive to feedback as well as being ambitious and fearless of change are skills that have helped me to get where I am today.

Demonstrating value and measuring success has become increasingly important in marketing, and being able to prove value is key to our business. The ability to define and track key performance indicators that align with client goals and provide meaningful reports requires a deep understanding of analytics and data analysis and getting to grips with these areas has been really important for my own success.

What education or training would be most useful for someone looking to follow your career path?

Some of the best marketers, marketing strategists, brand managers or client services managers don’t have marketing degrees and succeed brilliantly in their careers. I think that your personality can take you a long way in our industry. Interpersonal skills play an essential role and being friendly and approachable with plenty of common sense is just as valuable as knowing the ins and outs of marketing strategy at the beginning of your career.

I would say that education in marketing and advertising or digital marketing is probably the best place to start to have a broad understanding of the industry. However, so many skills are transferable and it’s up to the individual to adapt to new environments, set ups and processes. So if you don’t have a typical marketing background or degree, don’t let that stop you.

What advice would you have for someone looking to follow your path?

Be resilient and never let yourself down. Always put your ideas forward, ask questions, actively listen, be open to feedback, take the best out of the people that surround you and don’t be afraid to speak up when you need to.

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